Track my progress via texts!
April 16, 2017
BENEFITING: DOUG FLUTIE JR FOUNDATION FOR AUTISM INC
ORGANIZER: DOUG FLUTIE JR FOUNDATION FOR AUTISM INC
EVENT: 2017 Boston Marathon
EVENT DATE: Apr 17, 2017
Mileage Tracker: 143
Delivering my firstborn on my bed in 2011 was never on my bucket list, but I wouldn't trade it for the world. It was the beginning of many unexpected events that have defined parenthood for me.
But just 3 years ago, Johnny was not a happy boy. He was frustrated. So very frustrated and angry. He couldn’t really talk. He had about 8 tantrums a day. He growled or yelled at kids who walked by him. Loud sounds (like toilets flushing or blenders blending) sent him into major meltdowns. He played alone. He only played with trains. Potty training took almost 4 years.
Eventually this led to an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) diagnosis which was a bittersweet moment for my wife and me. We finally had a name for his struggle. But what to do about it? I don't remember any classes in college on how to deal with this.
By God's grace, we were connected with very special people and services to help Johnny become "the best Johnny he could be".
Today, at age six, he is happy. He regularly says, “Mom, I just love you so much." Or "Dad, you’re the best,” and kisses my cheek. He tells stories. He plays with a variety of toys. He has maybe one melt down a day, if that. Johnny is now potty trained. Instead of growling, he hugs his friends and plays with them. He greets people nicely. In public bathrooms, he plugs his ears. He lights up when he sees his friends, and other kids are happy to see him! I almost cried when one of his friends was at our house, tying his shoes, and stopped. He looked at Johnny, and said, “You know what, Johnny? You’re my best friend.”
We recognize that having a child with special needs is a huge unknown and overwhelming. And not every family can get access to or afford the therapies that will best help their child.
And so I'm running a marathon. Not just any marathon, the Boston Marathon! It's a reminder of the endurance race that is parenting, especially when special needs are involved. And I chose the Flutie Foundation because of the mission to help families get access to what they otherwise may not be able to.
The goal of the Flutie Foundation is to help families affected by autism live life to the fullest. Through their programs and partnerships, they help people with autism get access to care; lead more active lifestyles; and grow toward adult independence.
This is my dream for Johnny. This is my hope for all families touched by autism and special needs.
I can't thank you enough for your support. It motivates me to continue training and persevering in this fight.